Living in retirement - Managing money while retired

These are the choice years, when we’ll finally have the time and freedom to do all those things on the bucket list. But life after we stop working can also mean having to live on less income than before, so we’ll have some choices to make there, too. Government help is available – including New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) – and there are other choices that we can make to have our money flowing when we pull back from work.

Having regular income

Going into retirement doesn’t mean we stop earning income. From the age of 65 most New Zealand residents receive NZ Super every fortnight. Income can also come from savings, paid work or business activity.

Guide to retirement money

Guide to stretching our retirement savings


Case study: Jens Meder

Jens Meder stopped working over 20 years ago and says he's been loving retirement ever since.

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Government help

Depending on your personal situation you might qualify for extra help from the government on top of NZ Super. This could include help with ongoing health and medical costs (Disability Allowance) and housing costs (Accommodation Supplement).

You may also qualify for other assistance – for example, if you face an emergency situation, or if you need help with essential costs.

For more information:

  • Call Senior Services on 0800 552 002
  • Contact the local Senior Services centre (usually located within Work and Income)
  • Visit the Ministry of Social Development website

Budgeting in retirement

Everyone can benefit from having a budget – a plan of what money you expect to receive and how you expect to spend it. A budget is one of your best tools for managing your money, whatever your age.

Need help making a budget? Find a local financial capability (budgeting) service. Their services are free and confidential.

Our free budgeting booklet is available for download (as well as a hard copy via post – order online) or there’s this handy budgeting tool, too.

Guide to budgeting 

Ways to save money in retirement

Day-to-day expenses

The SuperGold Card is a discounts and concessions card available free to all New Zealanders who are aged 65 years or over, and those under 65 years receiving NZ Super (as a non-qualifying spouse or partner) or the Veteran’s Pension. Using it regularly can help save money on day-to-day expenses.

The SuperGold website has up-to-date listings of all discounts available with the card.

For more information:

  • Visit the SuperGold website or
  • Contact the SuperGold Card Centre on 0800 25 45 65.

Healthcare costs

A Community Services Card can help with the cost of healthcare. If you qualify, you’ll pay less on some health services and prescriptions.

If you're eligible for a Community Services Card, this will be indicated on the back of your SuperGold Card.

For more information or to apply for a Community Services Card:

  • Call Senior Services on 0800 999 999
  • Visit a Senior Services centre

Where to live in retirement

Later in retirement, you may have to rethink where you want to live. One option is to move to a retirement village; of course there are other choices.

Living at home

You could choose to:

  • Stay home, modify your house with ramps and rails and get home-help – but take into consideration the costs of doing so.
  • Take in a boarder or move in with family or friends – that way you have some companionship and security, and possibly some help in the home as well.
  • Downsize to a smaller home that’s closer to facilities. Apartments and townhouses often provide security and maintenance although they also charge body corporate fees to cover these things. Make sure to find out what the fees will be and how often they’re charged.

Take time to make these kinds of decisions – you need to think about what you need to live a good life when older. If you’re moving house, you need to be sure to consider the costs of moving – legal fees, real estate agent fees and the move itself.

Retirement villages

Moving into a retirement village is different from buying a house. The financial arrangements are more complex and villages vary in their accommodation and facilities, services, support and care, legal and financial structures, philosophy and management.

A decision to move into a village is important as it has long-term personal and financial consequences.

The most common form of legal title with retirement villages is a ‘licence to occupy’. This gives residents the right to live in the unit but they don’t own the actual unit – often this means it’s not possible to borrow against the unit. In many cases, residents do not share in any capital gain when they leave or transfer within the village.

Guide to choosing a retirement village

Rest homes

Thinking about residential care? The first stage is to have a needs assessment – this applies even if you're in a public hospital.

The needs assessment will also indicate whether you e may be eligible to apply for a Residential Care Subsidy. If you apply and qualify, the subsidy and most of your NZ Super will be used to pay for your care, leaving just a small amount of personal money to spend.

For more information:

  • Call the Ministry of Health’s Residential Care Information Line on 0800 737 777
  • Visit the Ministry of Health website.

Protecting your assets

It’s important to review insurance cover regularly during retirement. If you no longer have dependants and are debt-free, you might reconsider our need for life insurance.


It’s good to know that the things we’ve worked hard for during our life are protected.

You may need to review your insurances once retired. You also need to know your financial affairs will be handled as you would like if you become unable to make decisions

Guide to protecting what we own


People usually set up trusts so they no longer legally own their house or other assets, but can continue to use and enjoy them as ‘beneficiaries’ of the trust. The most common types of trusts used by retirees are family trusts and funeral trusts.

Family trusts

Family trusts involve the sale to a trust of your house and perhaps other assets. Family trusts can be complex and time consuming to administer. It costs money to set them up and there are ongoing legal and accounting fees.

Guide to family trusts

Prepaid funeral trusts

Prepaid funeral trusts are a way to pay funeral expenses in advance. Funeral trusts worth up to $10,000 are not considered to be assets when Senior Services is assessing eligibility for a Residential Care Subsidy.


Don’t know where to start?

Check out our 6 steps Get Sorted program to get you on track.

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